If High Street businesses want to see us during the January Sales, parking services need to be easy, convenient and affordable.
For some Club members it’s a source of stress in its own right.
Looking at the evidence of paint scrapes on concrete walls it obviously isn’t just me that finds car park access roads to be too narrow between car park floors.
Fortunately the following parking tips we received from IAM Roadsmart may well colour the amount of hands on shopping we’ll do locally, rather than from the ever-ready Mr Amazon and jam-packed large shopping centres.
1. Deciding where to park can have a huge impact on the cost of the purchase.
Have a look and see if your town has special offers on parking during the sales season – some towns have reduced rates on certain days and for late night shopping. I tend to use JustPark when I have to drive to Brighton and there’s usually a good enough choice for me to balance cost vs the distance I’m prepared to walk to my destination.
2. Think about where you leave your vehicle in a multi-story car park.
Choose a space based on when you plan to return. It can be daunting for a solo motorist to return to the only car left on the top floor of a now relatively empty car park.
3. Plan ahead.
We’re told that at any one time, 30% of drivers on UK roads are in city centres searching for a parking space! On average it takes 10-15 minutes to find somewhere to park and during busy periods it can take longer! So make sure you add the time it will take to get parked up into your time plan for the day.
4. Know your best car park choices.
Just like FOXY Lady Approved garages, car parks can have a certificate to prove their credentials too. One is called Park Mark based on clear directional signage and traffic flow techniques such as one-way circulation so drivers are not confused about which way to go. Pedestrian access and exit routes are clearly indicated with signage and controlled routes, such as painted paths, help to keep you safe. A car park finder is available here http://www.parkmark.co.uk/car-park-finder
5. Don’t make it easy for thieves.
Try to avoid returning to your vehicle to leave your purchases while you continue on shopping. Thieves do watch for this sort of thing. Leaving valuables in a car is never a good idea especially after you spent all that time and effort in choosing the right savings.
6. Choose well-lit car parks.
Some car parks are not as well-lit as others so it’s a good idea to put your lights on and give your eyes time to adjust to the different light levels. Keep a look out for pedestrians who might be thinking more about their shopping list than their safety – or that of their children.
7. Choose your parking neighbours and space carefully.
A car which is looked after and in good condition is less likely to have a door open into yours. Also, although never on purpose, a car with child seats in it might have children who are not quite as careful in charge of the door. Oh the memories of our innocent son in the Lotus with the heavy and wide reaching doors in our local library car park. Ouch…
8. Reverse park or drive in?
Use the option which suits you best – if you need to put your shopping in the boot when you return, consider driving into the space. Reverse parking is not always the best solution in these situations.
9. Avoid leaving your ticket in the car.
Make sure you put your parking ticket somewhere safe. If you are a regular at losing tickets, take a quick photo of it so you have all the details to hand just in case it happens again.
A good example of this is the car park at Regency Square in Brighton (and many others like it). It’s accessed by floor to ceiling gate security and whilst you might think you’d only need the entry card to exit the car park, having paid Just Park, you actually need the card to get back into the car park as a pedestrian – thank goodness I read the instructions in advance – I could still be waiting outside…
10. Don’t out-stay your welcome.
If you have used a pay and display system – set an alarm on your phone to remind you what time it runs out, it can be very easy to let time slip by without you remembering.
At busy times of the year it becomes more difficult to ‘pop’ into the town centre, parking spaces can be in short supply and a queue to get in or out of car parks takes away from the pleasure of snapping up a bargain. Park and ride is often a good option and some local authorities extend Christmas schemes into the sales period. Needless to say, if you can avoid the weekend, it is often easier to find a space whilst most people are dealing with their daily commute.
As a postscript, and knowing many High Street businesses that struggle to compete with the big nationals (but that we’d be the poorer for without) can I please remind everyone that local shops depend on our support so they can return this throughout the year. As a Steyning shopkeeper told me recently – if you don’t use us you’ll lose us.
Happy New Year everyone.